Tuesday, 13 May 2008
A really gripping historical tale by Lindsay Townsend!
I'm Lindsay Townsend.
I'm a British writer of sensual and ‘sweet’ historical romance. I'm married to a super man (Alan), live in Yorkshire and like music, reading, cooking, walking.
I've written since I was six years old and have always loved telling stories, especially those with high stakes and big emotions. For me, reading and writing romance allows me to indulge all these passions! I love reading and writing about sweeping adventures in other places, other times.
I have four romantic suspense titles under my belt - VOICES IN THE DARK (set in Italy against the backdrop of opera and war crimes), NIGHT OF THE STORM (set in Greece against the backdrop of wildlife smuggling), CHASING RACHEL (set on Dartmoor in England against the backdrop of a stalker who uses arson) and THE ENGLISH DAUGHTER (set on Corfu and dealing with an unsolved murder and relentless serial killer). Details of these are on Romancewiki.
Recently I've changed from writing romantic suspense and returned to my first interest, historical romance. I love having the hero and heroine rescue each other through the story and I find that an historical setting gives me lots of scope to do just that!
Here are the blurb and opening of my most recently published historical romance, A KNIGHT'S VOW. It was given a super review by Red Roses for Authors and, I must admit, I really enjoyed writing this story.. It's part of a two-book deal with Kensington books.
BLURB FOR 'A KNIGHT'S VOW'.
England, 1138.. Set against the dangerous backdrop of the Crusades, this sweeping romance captures the story of a beautiful young woman and the dashing knight who will battle his fiercest enemies to win her undying love.
Ever since she was fourteen, Alyson of Olverton dreamed of marrying a brave, charismatic young knight. His name was Guillelm de la Rochelle - and his marriage proposal satisfied her deepest yearnings. But her father forbade their union, breaking Alyson's innocent heart. Seven years later, the valiant knight has defied rumors of his death and returned home, having no idea that nothing is the same as when he left.
Back from fighting in the Crusades, Guillelm is stunned to find Alyson entrenched in his father's ancestral castle - even worse, she was betrothed to his father before his supposed death. Despite this chilling fact, Guillelm finds himself struggling to resist the temptation to seduce her. Torn between intense jealousy and overwhelming desire, he shocks them both by proposing marriage a second time, justifying that it will be easier to keep her safe if she is his bride. Little do they know, however, that there is an enemy in their very midst - one who won't resist until he destroys their chance at everlasting love.
EXTRACT FROM A KNIGHT'S VOW.
England, Summer 1138.
‘Sir Guillelm has returned! The son of Lord Robert has come back to us!’
‘Thanks be to God, we are saved! The young master has returned!’
Alyson heard the shouts from the surviving men-at-arms and jerked her head up, all thought of prayer forgotten. ‘My Lord Dragon,’ she whispered.
Struggling to rise to her feet from the hard cold floor of the small narrow chapel, she re-pinned her simple veil and pinched color into her gaunt cheeks, feeling her heart begin to race. ‘Can it really be true?’ She had waited for him for so long, she could scarcely believe it. Guillelm, here, in his family’s castle of Hardspen. For a moment she felt stunned with happiness.
‘My lady!’ The reedy voice of her seneschal, Sericus, floated above the hubbub in the great hall of the castle, calling ahead as he tottered on gangling legs to find her, to bring her this miraculous news.
‘I am here!’ Alyson called, darting from the chapel. Sericus was lame, and to save his withered limbs she picked up the hem of her plain brown gown and hurried down the spiral staircase of the keep, a small, slender girl with a mass of long black hair, large, very dark blue eyes and delicate features whose naturally bright, high-colored complexion had been dulled by weariness and grief. Longing to see Guillelm, she was reckless in her haste on the torch-lit stair, where only her natural fleetness of foot prevented a fall.
Would he remember her? She had been fourteen years old when he had answered the call of his kinsman, Raymond of Poitiers, and gone with him to the Holy Land. He had been in the exotic, dusty lands of Outremer for seven long years and she had despaired of ever seeing him again. For the last three years, with no news of him, there had even been the terrible rumor that he was dead. But he was alive!
Was he greatly changed? Would she be the one who would have to tell him that the enemy forces ranged outside the main gate were poised to attack? That his father, the noble and intimidatingly austere Lord Robert, had been dead for ten days? That for the last month she had been living in Hardspen as Lord Robert’s intended betrothed?
Chilled and appalled by these thoughts, Alyson halted in the shadows on the final step, raising a finger to her lips as Sericus came out of the hall in search of her. Sericus, understanding her wish without the need of speech, passed by her and limped out of sight of the travel-stained men standing by the log-strewn fireplace in the great hall beyond them..
‘Lady, where are your serving women?’ he asked in an urgent whisper.
‘Gila and Osmoda remain in my chamber: they are still sick, as are many within this castle.’ Alyson had left them sleeping, no longer feverish but weak..
‘Let me summon attendants to go in with you, a maid at the very least.’
‘You will be with me, Master Sericus, and that is enough,’ Alyson replied, with a smile of gratitude. ‘You have seen to our guests’ comfort?’ She blushed at calling the new lord of Hardspen her guest, but Sericus merely nodded his head.
‘Yes, my lady. They have ale and bread. Not fresh or fine bread, I fear. The baker’s boy has been busy with the repairs and the baker has been sick.’
‘Then pray allow me an instant to compose myself. And sit a moment, I beg you.’ Sericus had been without sleep for the last three nights, as she had, helping her with the sick and with the ordering of Hardspen’s human and physical defenses - the re-mortaring of sections of walls, the gathering of stores, the checking of weapons, as their enemy outside the gate waited in arrogant strength.
‘My lady, you are ever gracious.’ Lowering himself onto the stone treads, the wiry, gray-bearded, gray-haired man sat with a tiny grimace of relief.
Standing in the gloomy stairwell, Alyson took in the scene in the great hall, the large, high-ceilinged chamber that was the heart of the keep, where in happier times Lord Robert had dined with his men on the tables and stools that were now ranged to one side. Today, long after sunset, those warriors and men still loyal to Hardspen bedded down there in their clothes on the rush-covered floor to snatch a few hours’ sleep. She recognized their plain honest faces and saw that they remained exhausted, as she was herself, but that new hope gleamed in their eyes. Because of the arrival of one man -
Sir Guillelm de La Rochelle. She picked him out easily from the small group of soldiers who drank and warmed themselves - for although it was summer the nights were cold - by the crackling flames of the sweet-smelling apple wood. Tall as a spear, he towered over everyone there, long-backed and long-legged, with broad shoulders and lean hips. He was speaking quietly to one of his men, his back to her and with the dark hood of his cloak still pulled over his head as his powerful body steamed and dripped water from the relentless summer rain outside.
‘My Lord Dragon,’ Alyson breathed a second time, using the nickname she had given him and which he had made his own. She missed the sight of that mane of bright golden hair and even more his grimly handsome face but it was enough to know he was alive and safe. Giddy with relief, she now heard him speak for the first time in seven years as a castle defender asked how he and his few retainers had passed through the enemy lines.
‘It is my guess that there is sickness and fever in that camp, as there has been here,’ Guillelm replied, in the deep warm voice which had so often gently teased her in the past, ‘Your enemy has but few watchmen to stand lookout. On a gray, wet night such as this, those few can see no farther than the rainwater streaming from their caps. We slipped past them simply enough. After that it was an easy matter to bring my commanders safely inside Hardspen: my grandfather devised secret ways into the castle bailey and keep, paths which my father showed to me while I was yet a boy.’
‘Your commanders, Lord?’ asked his interrogator hopefully, picking up on the thread that Alyson had noticed, although she was distracted by Guillelm himself. He had turned to face his questioner and she could look upon the face that had haunted her dreams for so many years.
Eagerly she stared at him, feeling like a thirsty traveler coming to a well of pure, life-giving water. His was a lean, clean-shaven face, tanned by the blazing sun of Outremer, with a faintly aquiline nose which as a girl she had always longed to trace playfully with a finger. If he had changed, it was only to grow yet more handsome, with lines of character and decision etched into every uncompromising feature. She now caught herself wondering what it would be like to kiss that firm, full mouth.
‘Some of my commanders, I should say.’ Guillelm sounded faintly amused, yet his next words were plainly intended to give heart to the men of Hardspen. ‘The others are camped with the bulk of my forces in the woods close to the eastern bailey wall.. Their presence will give your would-be besiegers something of a surprise, come tomorrow’s dawn.’
There was laughter, no doubt as Guillelm had intended. Taking advantage of the lighter mood, he called for more ale. There was a scramble amongst the oak tables set against the longest wall to retrieve the pitchers of ale that Sericus had brought up from the winter stores.
Watching how readily the men obeyed him and recalling her girlish hero-worship of the youthful Guillelm, Alyson sternly reminded herself of her duty. She must keep these unseemly feelings of longing within bounds. She was to have been Lord Robert’s betrothed, affianced in a ceremony as sacred as marriage and now almost a widow. How then dare she entertain such unruly desires for Lord Robert’s son, a wish that she might kiss him and be kissed in return, enfolded in those strong bronzed arms?
‘Let us drink to the vanquishing of all our foes!’ Guillelm said, raising his goblet. ‘Let us drink to a new beginning!’
Listening closely, keen to hear him, Alyson sensed a sadness beneath the stirring words, a sense confirmed when he lifted his cup a second time and said in solemn, tightly-controlled tones, ‘Let us drink to the most valiant of lords. To my eternal grief and shame I did not reach in time to see and embrace him, as a son should a father, before he was taken by this foul pestilence..’
He paused, a tremor of deeply-felt emotion passing across his face. Swiftly, he mastered it and continued in as strong a voice as before, ‘To my father Lord Robert - may his soul already abide in heaven!’
‘Lord Robert,’ came the somber response from the men.
‘Robert,’ Alyson whispered, tears standing in her eyes as she remembered him and also, even more painfully, the death of her own father three months ago at Easter. For Guillelm’s sake, she prayed that whoever had told him of his father’s passing had done so with kindness. Dashing her tears away with a trembling hand, she raised her head and smiled at him, hoping that, although he would not see her, he might sense her sympathy.
Incredibly, as she smiled, he looked down the length of the great hall, straight at her. His eyes, deeper-hued and richer than the rarest of velvets, widened as he saw her, capturing Alyson in his dark, compelling gaze.
I could lose my heart to Guillelm and consider the danger of his breaking it well worth the risk, she thought, while an inner voice said, You already have.
For an instant both were still, wrapped in each other’s glances, but then an indignant shout from Sericus behind her and the raking of greedy clasping fingers against her shoulder warned Alyson of another, very different kind of danger. Breaking free of the pawing hand, ignoring her foul-breathed assailant’s grumbled, ‘Give me more ale and a kiss, girl!’ she whirled away from him and sped into the great hall, furious at the laughter of the other men-at-arms, those who had arrived that night with Guillelm.
Guillelm, she saw, however, was not laughing. She watched his face darken as the stocky, unshaven man from the stairway still pursued her, bellowing in nasal Norman French, ‘What is an English wretch like you good for, if not for serving your betters?’
‘Thierry!’ Guillelm shouted, his voice full of warning, and then Alyson heard him curse violently in an unknown tongue, possibly one of the languages of Outremer. She saw him thrust his half-drunk goblet at his nearest companion and stride towards her and her unwelcome follower, reaching them in less than ten paces.
‘Let the little maid be, Thierry,’ he growled in French, seizing the other fellow’s ever-reaching arm and bending it sharply back. ‘She does not care for your rough wooing, and nor do I. Go back to the garderobe and throw yourself down into the latrine if you can find no better manners!’
He thrust the man so violently aside that Thierry careered into one of the oak tables, where he crouched, rubbing his arm and clearly glad to be out of range of his lord‘s displeasure.
Guillelm had no time for him. He lowered his head to Alyson, the hood of his cloak slipping down and revealing that glorious mane of blazing golden hair, bright as a dragon’s flame.
‘He has done you no harm?’ he asked softly in English, his deep-set eyes narrowing in concern.
‘No.’ Alyson stared up at her rescuer, more than ever conscious of her rekindled admiration for him while at the same time guiltily aware that her habitually plain clothing had in part caused this confusion. Had not her old nurse Gytha complained that she dressed more like a serving maid than a lady? ‘No, my lord,’ she said, knowing she should make some effort to give an account of herself.
She sensed from the abrupt silence in the great hall that Guillelm’s men had now been told, in hasty whispers from the others, who she was. She could feel Sericus hovering close by, awaiting his instructions, poised for the slightest signal from her to make a formal introduction to Sir Guillelm de La Rochelle on her behalf. But what was the use? she thought bleakly.
He does not remember me!
Kensington are publishing my second historical romance, A KNIGHT'S CAPTIVE, in April 2009. The settings are northern England, Anglo-Norman London and the Fens in the tumultuous year of 1066.
This year, I'm also delighted that I'm going to be published for the first time in e-book form, by BookStrand (Siren-Bookstrand).This is also an historical romance, FLAVIA’S SECRET, set in Roman Britain in AD 206, and I have to say they’ve given me a lovely cover.
Here's a brief blurb:
How far dare you trust your lover? Especially when your lover is also your master....
Spirited young scribe Flavia hopes for freedom. She and her fellow slaves in Aquae Sulis (modern Bath) have served the Lady Valeria for many years, but their mistress’ death brings a threat to Flavia’s dream: her new master Marcus Brucetus, a charismatic, widowed officer toughened in the forests of Germania. Flavia finds him overwhelmingly attractive but she is aware of the danger. To save her life and those of her ‘family’ she has forged a note from her mistress. If her deception is discovered, all the slaves may die.
For his part, torn between attraction and respect, Marcus will not force himself on Flavia. Flavia by now knows of his grief over the deaths of his wife Drusilla and child: but how can she match up to the serene, flame-haired Drusilla?
As the wild mid-winter festival of Saturnalia approaches, many lives will be changed forever.
Thank you for featuring me on Red Roses for Authors, Linda. If anyone has any questions about me or about my books, please email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
I also have a website at www.lindsaytownsend..com and a new blog at http://lindsaysbookchat.blogspot.com
Best wishes to everyone,
Please visit my website at www.lindsaytownsend.com
and my blog at http://lindsaysbookchat.blogspot.com
Lindsay Townsend our featured author writes for Kensington and Book Strand. Her stories are historical and sweep you away to a magical land of the past!
A cover for one of Lindsay's lovely books
Posted by Anne Herries Author at 04:46